Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vigorous Exercise Boots Vitamin D while Lowering Heart Risk

Vigorous exercise like jogging can reduce heart attack risk by 22%.
People who do vigorous physical activity — such as running, jogging, playing basketball or soccer — for three or more hours a week reduce their risk of a heart attack by 22%, a recent Harvard study found. Among the reasons: They have higher levels of good cholesterol and vitamin D as well as better levels of other factors involved in heart disease.

The fact that vitamin D plays a role in the relationship between exercise and risk of heart disease is a new finding," says the study's lead author Andrea Chomistek, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. "This likely comes from being outside more. People who exercise tend to be out in the sun, which raises their vitamin D level. I don't think you'd get the same increase in vitamin D by staying inside and running on the treadmill."

Chomistek and colleagues analyzed the activity levels and the blood work of men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. During 10 years of follow-up, 412 men had a heart attack and were matched to a control group of 827 men who did not have heart disease.

The findings reported in October's Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of American College of Sports Medicine:
•Vigorous exercise was associated with higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which accounted for 38% of the decreased risk of heart disease.
•Those who exercised also had higher levels of vitamin D and lower levels of hemoglobin A1c (a marker of diabetes risk), apolipoprotein B (a blood protein) than those who were inactive.

"Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health, especially your heart health," Chomistek says. The scientists didn't ask people how much time they spent exercising outdoors, but other research shows that being outside more is associated with higher levels of vitamin D because of sun exposure, she says. Russ Pate, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, says, "This is another reason to be outside more. You get a double benefit. If you're outside, you're more likely to be physically active, which provides a range of health benefits and you get greater sun exposure so have greater vitamin D levels, which carries many health benefits."

Other studies show that those who do regular moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, have a 20% lower risk of heart disease, she says. "Moderate and vigorous exercise may have similar benefits for reducing your risk of heart disease as long as you burn a similar amount of energy," Chomistek says.
These findings also may apply to women because previous studies have shown that women get similar heart-health benefits from regular exercise, she says.

Thanks for reading this post! Source: USA Today

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